Ames Granite Joint Venture and Plenary Roads Denver, the Colorado Dept. of Transportation’s design-build contractor and concessionaire on the U.S. 36 Express Lanes Project, say that Phase 1 of the project has put nearly 250 people to work locally. It is responsible for an additional 130 Colorado subcontracting jobs, the contractor says. Phase 2 has added an additional 200 jobs.

The Workforce Development Program has helped the contractor find qualified workers, and more importantly, provides opportunities for people without construction or design experience to gain entry into the field.

“This program is a win-win for everyone,” said Workforce Development Program Coordinator Jim Hottinger. “As participants complete their training, they further advance their skill set and career potential within the industry, making the program an asset to employees, the project and the industry as a whole.”

The program is a combination of CDOT’s On the Job Training (OJT) and the Regional Transportation District’s Workforce Initiative Now (WIN) programs. To supplement on-the-job and classroom training, WIN also provides career coaching, industry networking and personal supportive services to help participants succeed on the jobsite long-term.

On U.S. 36, the partnership helps train general craft field employees and professional service employees. General craft employees include equipment operators, truck drivers, carpenters and others who aid with operations in the field, and professional service employees support the project in a variety of tasks such as quality assurance, inspection, materials testing, accounting, document control, public information, computer-aided drafting and engineering. The program on U.S. 36 is the first time that professional services have been included in a CDOT OJT program.

Jed Manheim, a field erosion control technician, began working on the U.S. 36 Express Lanes Project two years ago through WIN.
“When I started, I didn’t know anything about construction, but through the last two years, the Workforce Development Program has heightened my training and has helped me understand how to do my job safely,” Manheim said. “Today, I have 16 certificates that are helping advance my career.”

Ames Granite has a goal of 14% participation in its U.S. 36 project work force on Phase 1 and 9% on Phase 2 in the Workforce Development Program, making the program integral to the success of the project. To date, the U.S. 36 Express Lanes Project has graduated 18 employees from the program. Currently, 26 apprentices are enrolled, and six more will start by the end of the year, the contractor said.

“There is a shortage of qualified construction workers in the industry right now,” said CDOT Project Director Mark Gosselin. “This program is an asset to the U.S. 36 Express Lanes project but will also increase the talent pool for future projects.”

The U.S. 36 Express Lanes Project is a multi-modal project that will build an express lane in each direction on U.S. 36. The lanes will accommodate H=high occupancy vehicles, bus rapid transit and tolled vehicles. In addition, the project will replace several bridges, build a commuter bikeway, add BRT improvements and install intelligent transportation systems for tolling, transit and traveler information and incident management.

Phase 1 (Federal Boulevard to 88th Street in Louisville-Superior) will open to the public in spring 2015. Phase 2 (88th Street to Table Mesa Drive in Boulder) will open in 2016.